INDIANAPOLIS — A small-town boy who grew up to be a big-city cop was laid to rest Thursday, after he was a hailed as a hero for putting himself in harm’s way to save a woman and her child from an angry man with a gun.
Indianapolis police officer Rod Bradway, 41, was honored by thousands of public safety officers, civilians, and public officials who gathered at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse for an emotional tribute. It was followed by a slow procession to a gravesite service near the Heroes of Public Safety monument in the historic Crown Hill Cemetery.
“To get yourself killed as a police officer, you don’t have to be a rogue cop, you don’t have to antagonize anybody, you don’t have to pit yourself against any big-league crook,” Nappanee Mayor Larry Thompson told mourners. “All you have to do is stumble into somebody’s madness.”
Bradway, who grew up in the northern Indiana town of Nappanee, was killed a week ago when he kicked in an apartment door in response to screams for help from a woman being held at gunpoint by her former boyfriend. That man fatally shot Bradway, police say, then died after Bradway and another officer returned fire. The woman and her 11-month-old child were unharmed.
Indianapolis police chief Rick Hite said Bradway’s actions represented more than just a reflexive response to a cry for help.
“He symbolically kicked down the door of anger,” Hite said. “He kicked down the door of hatred. He kicked down the door of pain. He kicked down the door of fear. He kicked down the door of despair.
“At the same time, Rod opened the door to peace,” he continued. “He opened the door to life. He opened the door to trust. He opened the door to honor. He opened to door to love. And he opened the door to legacy. This magnificent act of bravery and kindness allows a mother to raise a child.”